BOSTON (CBS) – This Autism Awareness Month, a new exhibit called “Unspoken Words” is open at the 42 Maple Gallery in Bethlehem, NH. It shows the powerful expression of 10 artists who are on the autism spectrum. And wait until you meet one of those artists.
For Lucy Sutton of Braintree, the focus is on communication, beauty and even therapy. Lucy just turned 4, and paints like nothing you’ve ever seen. With her canvas on top of a sheet spread on the family room floor and her paints carefully chosen, she picks her brushes and goes to town.
Lucy is on the autism spectrum, with all the challenges that implies. Her parents got the painting idea when she was about two and having meltdowns. “That was because she couldn’t tell us her wants and needs, so we decided to try just putting a canvas in front of her,” says Jen Sutton, Lucy’s mom.
The connection was remarkable. “It helps her mind calm down a little bit. It’s soothing. It’s relaxing for her,” says her father Dave Sutton.
When you watch Lucy paint it’s very clear that every stroke is deliberate. “It’s not just slapping on paint in swirls. She’s really thinking of the colors that she wants to put on there ahead of time, and where she wants to place them on her canvas,” says Dave Sutton.
For Lucy painting is communicating, which can be difficult for some kids on the spectrum. “We paint every day and her moods are different every day, and I can definitely see that come through in the colors she’s choosing,” Jen says.
Lucy’s artwork has opened doors for the entire family. “We’re always looking for ways to connect with Lucy, and I think a lot of parents on the spectrum are. So when she’s finished with a painting and we can look at it and say, how are you feeling? And she can say I’m feeling happy, or sometimes sad, I mean, these are huge moments for us as a family, to understand how she’s feeling,” says Jen.
To see more of Lucy’s work visit the website